There is a question on the taxi drivers knowledge test for Oxford City Council which asks where in the city The Bate Collection is located. You would be given a blank map and asked to mark on it the names of a number of roads and a number of well known institutions within the city. Indeed, on its web site, the city council helpfully provides a list of roads, colleges and other locations, which you are to learn in advance.
Here in the Vale, many of us licensed to drive taxis have never sat a knowledge test at all, as this was introduced relatively recently and generally, changes in regulation are not applied retrospectively.
Day and night taxi driving are two different jobs altogether, due ostensibly to the effects of excessive consumption of alcohol by some passengers. So, the night knowledge test might include such venues as Abingdon’s late opening pubs and restaurants.
Whereas, the day test ought to include such venues as schools and doctors’ surgeries. Vale of White Horse District Council does not provide anything like as specific and helpful a list of what new applicants are expected to learn, as does Oxford City.
In a city where so much land is given over to both universities and their associated institutions, it is always a pleasure when the annual Oxford Open Doors event comes around and there is an opportunity to see inside some of the buildings closed to the public.
Many of these buildings are exemplars of the highest standards of both modern and older architecture, seamlessly blended within the same location.
So it was recently, I eschewed house work on my day off and went after church, not having booked, but hoping to talk my way into Pusey House, Oxford, which shares a site in Saint Giles with Saint Cross College, one of the newer graduate colleges of the university. Many times I have parked my taxi outside, in the county council’s exorbitantly priced on street parking spaces, for a brisk walk past the building, through the city centre and memories of my Oxford childhood.
“Good afternoon, Sir,” I addressed the porter in his Lodge, asking his permission to wait for the start of a tour, which was full of beautiful architecture and historical curiosity, in a way that only Oxford can do well. Temple Moore’s Chapel of the Resurrection at Pusey House lucidly exemplifies the entire concept of the event, taller on the inside than the outside, sunken below ground level.
It is a glorious building, which raises the spirits on entering, from an almost gloomy Gothic corridor.
And The Bate Collection? It is located on Saint Aldates.
As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday 20 September 2017